Chemarts in Aalto University is the study of bio-based materials

Innovative productsfrom cellulose based biomaterials

​Biomaterials are bio-based renewable and biogradeable materials made from wood. Established in 2011, Chemarts is a Finnish collaboration between two Aalto University schools, the School of Chemical Engineering (CHEM) and the School of Arts, Design and Architecture (ARTS). At its heart, Chemarts is the study of bio-based materials and its main aim is to inspire young students from design and technical schools to get interested in wood-based fibres and to explore biomaterials together. Chemarts was also conceived to consider how design can be a strategic tool when developing new cellulose-based products or new materials.



Chemarts has inspired several research projects, for example ‘Design Driven Value Chains in the World of Cellulose DWoC’ 2013–2018. The DWoC project aimed to reveal the potential of cellulose-based biomaterials, and to enhance their properties for new applications. Conductive materials, 3D printing of cellulose as well as nanocellulose filaments, for example, were developed.

Chemarts interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary mindset, and openness to broadly different kinds of people working together, is a quite new and unique approach in basic material research. One of the key messages is that the multidisciplinary collaboration is viewed as a strategic tool to help make better business and better products, as well as more sustainable products made from biomaterials.Chemarts in Aalto University is the study of bio-based materials

From an educational perspective, the big difference between academy and business is the time perspective. While business often looks more at the short term, universities are educating young professionals for the future and that takes at least five years. These young professionals will be the ones who run the business in ten years – and they need to have the vision and relevant skills for the future.

Wood-based cellulose fibre can be recycled 7 times

Wood-based cellulose fibre is highly sustainable and recyclable. Depending on the production methods and on the applications used, cellulose can be recycled up to seven times before the structural integrity of the material tends to breaks down. The fibre biomass is then generally burnt for end-stage conversion to renewable energy. 

On average, over 60% of the clothes we wear are made of oil (like polyester, acrylic and nylon). Achieving a 0% oil-based benchmark is unlikely, but the ambition could be to decline the use of oil-based fibres to around 20% globally.

Chemarts in Aalto University is the study of bio-based materials

Towards sustainable textile industry

Globally, approximately 105 million tons of textile fibre is consumed annually (2017). Around 64% of these fibres are created from fossil-derived raw materials, around 24% is cotton, with wood-based fibres representing around 6% of the total. The remaining 6% includes materials like wool, silk, hemp and linen. Luckily, biomaterials are a way towards a more sustainable textile industry.

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